Jean-Luc Godard always had a strong identification with Bob Dylan, a sense that their careers, their artistic journeys and even their lives were somehow linked, even though they never worked together.  The idea is not as strange as it sounds.  Both were artists steeped in tradition, the tradition of cinema in Godard's case and the tradition of American music in Dylan's.  Both were looking for ways to bring what they loved from those traditions into the present, to give them a form that would be alive for the future.  Both were re-mixers, who made startling recombinations of old things that they then inflected with a purely contemporary resonance.

Both also had serious motorcycle accidents that resulted in periods of seclusion.

In the late 70s, each artist began to lose touch with his traditional audience — Dylan wasn't making much of a showing on the charts anymore, Godard was finding it harder and harder to get financing for his films.  They weren't cutting the same figures on the cultural stage that they had in previous years.

Godard took an interest in Dylan's fortunes, kept track of his successes and failures — since they seemed in some ways to mirror his own.  It wasn't just a question of sympathy with a fellow artist in a similar predicament — it was a question of an almost mystical identification with one of the only artists of the 20th Century operating at his level of genius and accomplishment, and thus one of the only artists of their time who could possibly understand what it felt like to be Jean-Luc Godard in commercial and cultural isolation.

Most surprisingly, Godard has reported that when Dylan “turned to Christ” in 1978, he said to himself, “That will happen to me, too.”  Then he forgot about it, until he made Hail Mary in 1984.  “Look,” he said.  “Dylan warned me.”

3 thoughts on “DYLAN AND GODARD

  1. please can you tell me which film godard is directing in the first still… thanks

    • I’m pretty sure it’s the airport interview scene in “Breathless”.

  2. When writing Breathless, Godard kept the cast and crew waiting each day as he wrote that day’s script while breakfasting. When writing the songs for Blonde on Blonde, Godard kept the musicians waiting each session as he wrote the session’s songs.

    Godard wore sunglasses all the time. Dylan wore sunglasses all the time.

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